Devil Seed: Chapter 1
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
"Izzo! You need to hurry up. Your class is in an hour. You don’t want to be rushed getting to school for this test." Donna Adams called out through the house intercom still in her bathrobe.
"Well, I’m getting rushed already and I haven’t even left the house." A sweet yet sarcastic reply came threw the speaker. "My perfected pre-med-end-of-course-exam routine starts with getting dressed, mom. The longer I talk to you on here, the slower I can get around." She continued followed with a playful snort.
"She clearly takes after you! You support her in this kind of behavior." The aging Donna said to her equally gray husband. "It’s a wonder this house is still standing with the two of you. It’s hard to believe she is 24, she acts like she did when she was 14!"
"I heard that!" Isabella yelled from upstairs.
"Yeah well… what can ya do?" Program Director Adams said, his head buried in the newspaper. "She isn’t that bad." He mumbled out around the corners of a cream cheese bagel.
The Adams residence was a construct of modern architecture and technology. All the angles were ninety degrees. Any thing that may have been curved was a perfect circle, or half circle, including the table, light fixtures, and the windows that weren’t square. The kitchen floor was an artistic swirl of black and white cement with a protective high sheen sealant. The dishwasher was hidden below the center island table to make after mean cleaning quick and hassle free. Stainless steel appliances were all cabinet depth giving a nice fluid style to the entire area.
"You may want to hurry up though Izzo! Pam won’t make any breaks for you in front of the class." Dr. Adams bellowed up through the massive home putting his food down and going for his coffee. "In fact, she may be extra nasty just so the other pre-meds don’t think she is showing you favoritism!"
"Psh, yeah right.” Isabella said bounding down the staircase two steps at a time with jet black hair flowing like a silk flag in the wind. "The last time Pam acted irritated at me she asked me to stay after class and told me some stories of you and Dr. Richards while you were still in your residency. I’m greatly looking forward to next year when I have ol’ "Grizzly Adams" as my professor." She laughed.
"You need to think about the situation Pam is in, Isabel." Dr Adams said still nose deep in the cartoon section. "Her job is to teach you very important skills you will need in your future career while maintaining active discipline through her session. While you and her may have a friendly relationships out side of the learning environment, while in class you need to show respect. Also, it’s not fair to her to have to play favorites with you when others are in class. You should actively avoid putting her in a position like that."
"I never thought of it like that dad." Izzo said in what was almost an apology. "I mean, I got the part about me showing her respect. Though I never though she would have issues correcting me in class just because we’re friends. I’ll do my best to keep her from having a reason to do that." she said getting a plate out of the cabinet.
"That’s my girl." Dr. Adams said looking at the bagel and then back to the coffee as if trying to choose which he wanted to consume.
Isabella put a bagel in the toaster and walked round the table to give her dad a rather forceful hug just as he made his mind up to go with the beagle which pushed his beard into the cream cheese.
"God damn it." He blurted out of reflex. "You could have waited until after I had finished eating ya know?" he said running a hand threw his beard.
"Oh you’ll be ok." Izzo said as she exchanged looks with her mother, both of them laughing under their breaths.
"Just get a rag and wipe it out, its just a little cream cheese." Donna said. After a few silent moments went by of Dr Adams reading the classifieds she added, "You are going to wipe it out, aren’t you?", exchanging humorous glances with Isabel.
"Yes, yes, of course I was. I was just going to finish the… Good lord, what are you wearing?" he asked Izzo as he looked up from the paper for the first time.
Isabel had on a nice black cotton vest revealing a bit of a pressed white short sleeved button down men’s dress shirt buttoned neatly to the top button with a black tie resting in between the collar. Tightly following the curves of her hips was the pleated cotton mini skirt in question in all black with a thin horizontal white band going around about two inches from the bottom. Then a black leather belt with matching strap on heeled shoes.
After her father’s reaction, Izzo tried to shimmy her skirt down a half an inch or so without him taking notice.
"There is no way that skirt would pass the hands test, don’t even try your tricks!"
The "hand test" would be the near ritual Isabella and her father went threw anytime he thought what she was wearing was too revealing. Izzo would have to put her arms straight and hands flat down to her sides. If her fingers touched the skin of her legs, it was deemed too short of clothing and she would need to change into something different.
"I know in my early teens I said that I was old enough to make my own choices. Then when I was in high school I said the same thing. Now I’m actually 24. I don’t understand why you have issues with this. It’s a powerful getup expressing my pride a woman yet maintaining a somewhat professional demeanor for the learning place." She said in a triumphant tone as if she had been trying to defend herself from murder and knew she would get off free. "It also helps take attention away from my hair and eyes." She added much more conservatively and with a hit of embarrassment.
After seeing the clear change in his daughter’s disposition Dr. Adams said "Maybe you are getting a bit old for silly tests."
"Okay." She said, still starring blankly at the floor with her hands in a fist around her skirt edges.
Putting a finger under her chin and lifting her head so she could see his face, Dr Adams started "How many times do I need to tell you? What makes a person is in here." as he pointed in the center of her chest, "and here." he continued, poking her in the forehead making her blink. "Not here." he said, as he grabbed one of her slender arms and shook it. "None of us can help the way we are made. But it’s up to us to choose what we do with the end product. The person, who cares the most about those gorgeous eyes of yours, is you."
Seeing her brighten up he gave her a light kiss on the cheek and gave her a long hug.
"Thanks daddy. Sometimes I don’t know what I would do if you weren’t around to talk some sense into me." She said returning his hug and burying her head in his shirt.
"Yeah… I don’t know what you would do either. He said laughing trying to push her away. "Now go get your things, you can’t be late!"
She clung on to him as if she were a barnacle afraid to get pulled out to sea.
"All the times I threw a fit about what you had chosen to wear were never just so I could boss you around. I never told you to do something, or said you couldn’t do something, just because I was the parent. You and I both know you’re adopted, but I love you more than life and want you to be safe for when I’m not there. Me telling you want you can and cannot wear is just me being protective. I have tried to raise you so you never knew want and only wanted to be happy. Now, you also find joy in making others happy, which makes me so proud." Dr. Adams said in earnest.
"I love you too.” She murmered, head still burred in his chest.
"Times come though, that we have to rise up and meet life head on. This is one of those times. You need to get your things so you can get to school." Dr. Adams said tenderly.
With a smile she stuck her tongue out at him and took off upstairs. While wiping his beard off he noticed two small identical round damp spots on his shirt where Isabella’s head had been.
"Poor little Izzo." Donna said. "Ever so worried about what people think of her. She needs to give you a little bit of whatever it is that makes her like that." She laughed.
"Would you really want that? I’ve been told I’m unprofessional my entire life. I make over a half a million dollars a year and hold the most influential title a doctor can hold in the largest hospital in the state. Yet people still hold their standards. I live by what I told Isabella. How we act and what we look like doesn’t define our moral ethics or who we are. I like helping people. Me acting professional will not dictate how well I help, or who I am. Pete taught more much more than how to be a doctor while I was under him." Dr Adams said solemnly.
"I wouldn’t want you to change for anything Jonathan. I’m happy you have the fortitude to be yourself in a demanding environment. I’m proud even." His wife said.
Smiling, Dr. Adams went on "Speaking of Pete, he got back with me on being a mentor for Izzo. He said once she finishes med and starts her residency he will take her under his wing. He also added that she was the only thing keeping him from retiring. Speaking of which… how old is he? He must be seventy now!"
"I guess that’s good" Mrs. Adams said with a smile. "Our daughter is going to be mentored by a guy known as Grizzly Adams."
"Pete is the best "people" doctor I have ever met, or even heard of. He teaches more than just what being a doctor is about, and how to treat illness. He teaches about people and how they think. I also trust him with Izzo. I know he can get her back home if I can’t get her because I’m at work. Her having sessions at the same place I work doesn’t do a bit of good when she is learning from seven in the morning to noon and I’m busy from the same time she gets there to eight at night or later." The Doctor said.
"We’ll be fine." Donna said with a smile.
"Sometimes, I worry about Isabella." Dr. Adams commented seemingly out of no where. "She is 24, and acts… not like a 24 year old would act. Now, I’m not saying she is immature or anything, but she never hit the dreaded rebellious stage. She goes threw great lengths to keep all around her happy. She’s so… kind hearted I guess. Life can be mean and terrible. I worry what will happen when she gets a taste of it. Oh I hope we haven’t been too protective of her." Dr. Adams said watching the morning sunrise threw a square window.
"We have done fine Jon. You don’t have doubt in anything you do. Why doubt your ability to parent?"
After a brief silence the two laid their conversation to rest when they heard their daughter come down the stairs. Dr. Adams and Isabella Adams said their good-byes to their wife/mother and walked out the door.
Once they hit the front steps Izzo’s dad threw her the keys like he did every morning.
"Sure is nice to have a sexy ladah drive me to work every day." Dr. Adams said while laughing hysterically.
"You’re so embarrassing sometimes, you really are." His daughter replied coldly.
"Yeah well… you need to do something around here to earn your keep. I pay for you to go to learn, I buy your food, you live in my house, blaa bla blaaa." Adams said with a grin.
"Actually, scholarships pay for school, that one you can’t hang over me. The rest I’ll give you." Izzo said face smothered with indifference.
"Wowzers, think I hit a nerve!" her dad said with exaggerated shock.
"Grow up dad."
After a few minutes the two turned out of their gated community, joined the other traffic on the road, and headed to the hospital. On the way Isabella’s father drilled her on questions, theories, and anything he could think of that Pam may have put on her upcoming exam.
"I don’t know why you want me to go over these with you. I swear to god you know it better than I do." Dr. Adams said after he couldn’t think of anything else to throw at her.
"Oh please, you’re like the living legend in that place. I can’t count on my two hands the amount of times someone has asked me something about you."
"Oh?" He asked.
"Yes, mainly other students." She replied turning his way.
"Look out!" Dr. Adams yelled pointing in front of the vehicle.
As she registered what her father had yelled, Izzo saw something small run out in front of the vehicle from the corner of her eye. She stomped on the break as hard and as quickly as her strength and reflexes would allow. Closing her eyes as the sports utility vehicle’s front end lowed as its weight transferred, she felt her first two bumps that were a tell tail sign of hitting an animal in the road.
Once the vehicle came to a stop, acting purely on emotions she kicked open the driver side door and got out.
"Isabella! What are you doing!?" Her father bellowed. "Get back in the car, there is on coming traffic!" he franticly continued while unbuckling his seatbelt.
Not even realizing her father was yelling Isabel ran around the rear of the car to see what she had done. Eyes watering up her heart sank even further when she heard the mangled ragged gulps of air as domesticated feline was making in efforts to live a bit longer. She gazed into it eyes in horror as they looked back at her with what she thought was accusation. It became more and more difficult for her to through the building tears as the small victims breaths became weaker and weaker. Ignoring the sound of screeching as on coming traffic slammed to a standstill, she reached down and pulled the cut collar covered in crimson from the now dead animal.
"Isabel!" her dad shouted as he ran behind her position and in between the growing line of cars.
"Its name was Luke." she said in a whisper showing her dad the bloody pet tags with vision so blurry she couldn’t even see. "I should have been paying more attention. I killed it. Not indirectly, or something. I killed this animal."
"That’s not true!" Her dad said trying to catch his breath. "It ran out in front of the car sweetie; there was nothing that could have been done." he finished while taking both thumbs and wiping her eyes.
"Let’s go. I don’t want to be late." Isabel said with a small sniff.
"Ok." Her dad said holding her by the shoulders. "I’ll drive the rest of the way."
"Get the fuck out of the road people! Some of us have jobs to keep!" a motorist yelled. After saying something to his passenger he honked the horn and added "What is wrong with you anyway? You have a death wish?"
Isabella slightly leaned around her father to make out who was doing all the yelling. There was another sports utility vehicle with a mans head sticking out of the window only twenty feet at best from her dad that was crooked in the road from skidding to a stop. Her sorrow turned to anguish at the constant railings of the driver. Even the passenger in the car was trying to pull the man back inside the window and calm him.
Why is he so mad? Something just lost its life. Can’t he see I’m a wreck from it? I don’t understand how someone could be so cold and self absorbed! This isn’t how people should act towards one another.
While having these short thoughts of confusion and resentment toward the other driver, she noticed slight flashes in her vision. These flashes quickly turned into violent strobes in her mind. While looking at the man she saw his skin darken to a gray with yellow boils erupting across his exposed flesh.
Oh god, what’s happening to him?!
The man convulsed then stiffened while screaming a bubbly congested wail as worm like strands pushed meat and muscle aside while moving and probing under his skin. All the while there were sounds of hundreds of voices crying out in agony with every twitch of the tentacles. Clawing and pulling at his arms, chest, and neck to get the unknown attackers out of his body, the motorist tore chunks of flesh from himself revealing the glossy black malevolent intruders under his epidermis with the harmonic cries of agony coming to a crescendo.
Help him, you’re his wife! Do something for him! Don’t just sit there looking at me!
"Oh… Oh god!" Isabel shrieked in a frozen fear.
"What? What is it!?" her dad answered following what she was looking at finding her gaze on the man in the SUV.
Don’t look! It’s terrible. I’ve never… it’s so awful! Do something daddy! No no no no no no no no. STOP! PLEASE!
With more assaulting and furious flashes bombarding her vision,she saw the disgruntled driver give a final convulse and shot forth a mass of black tar like liquid that could by in no means fit inside his stomach. In a horrific scene just as terrifying as the moments leading to his death, the man appeared to be dead.
After turning back around and looking at the once beautiful quivering colorless face of his daughter, Dr. Adams put his hands on the sides of her head and pulled her face back in line with his.
"Isabel!" he boomed "Look at me!"
Blinking at the voice she had loved her entire life, Izzo focused on her dad.
"What is it? What has you so scared?" he asked in a calm voice.
"The man, in the car back there, he…" she said as her turned around again to see what she was talking about. When he her father moved his head allowing her to see the driver seat of the SUV, the man was there, honking the horn, and in completely normal condition. Izzo also noticed the screaming hatful unseen choir had gone silent and the only sounds to be heard was those of honking cars and the passing of traffic.
"Hey? Babe? Are you ok?" Dr. Adams asked in devout concern.
In an exhausted tone she replied "let’s get out of here. We have held up traffic long enough."
Grabbing her fathers hand Isabella and her father got back in the car with her dad in the driver seat and her beside him.
"So what happened back there?" Dr Adams asked. "You were in a frozen panic. I didn’t know what to do!"
"I saw… I had this hallucination or something. I can’t explain it."
"Want to tell me about…?"he asked.
"No." she returned before he could even finish what she knew he would ask.
The rest of the car ride to the hospital was filled with a very rare silence. Isabella was stuck thinking about all that had happened in just a few short moments. Her father thought about what could have caused the hallucinations she mentioned and what they could have been to put her in the level of panic and fear she was under. He knew she had a somewhat sheltered life, but didn’t think that life, or running over the cat, would have triggered such a negative reaction in her. He had no idea what happened. Had he been too protective of her?
After a morning of meetings, sessions going over budgets, and various requests, Dr. Adams finally had time to take a break and think about what had happened in the morning involving his daughter. The idea of her using some form of drug or another had crossed his mind.
"No, no. If nothing else, her fear of disappointing me would keep her from doing that. What is going on?" he thought out loud.
"Dr. Adams, Dr. Richards is here for lunch." An ancient female voice came threw his office intercom.
After getting his keys and hanging up his coat, Dr. Adams headed for the door. He was looking forward to his lunch with Pete more than normal today, maybe he could give some of his sagely advice.
"Good afternoon Pete." He said locking his office.
"Hey there Jon, how has your morning been treating you?" replied the barely aging mass of Dr. Pete Richards.
"I’m not bad. However, I’m a bit worried about Isabella." He said. "Walk with me to the cafeteria." he said as he continued while he started walking.
"Oh, what’s wrong with little Izzo?" Dr Richards as he turned in pursuit.
"She had a near breakdown today on the way here. She hit a cat in the road and then ran out of the car to see what she did. I had never seen her so upset. She also said she had some sort of hallucination. When I asked her about what she saw she got defensive and wouldn’t tell me. She never hides things from me Pete. I don’t know what’s going on." Dr. Adams poured out to his old mentor.
"I wonder if that is what Pam wanted to talk to you about." Pete said.
"Pam wanted to talk to me?"
"Yeah, she said she was going to get a hold of you."
"I never got a message from Marry." Jon said with brows narrowing.
As the two made their way into the cafeteria they talked about what was happening with Isabel and possible explanations. Despise both being very experienced doctors neither could come up with an on the spot explanation.
"Maybe I’m over reacting. That may have been what has caused all this to begin with." Dr. Adams exhaled.
They only reply Pete would give was a confused look.
"This morning while we were in the car and we weren’t talking I was thinking maybe I have been too protective of her. Maybe she is too immature for her age. What if I have failed as a father to prepare her for all that’s in life because I didn’t want her to get hurt or see the ugly side of things?" Jon explained.
"Jon, I have been around your family almost as long as you have. I know you have been protective of Isabel. However, she is not immature. What could been taken as immaturity I see as kind heartedness. What you may think is her being too sheltered, I see as someone not plagued by the wrongs of this world. You, and your wife, have done a magnificent job in being parents."
Unlike Isabel, Dr. Adams didn’t see the bright side of things very quickly. His life had taught that while people should strive to do their best, there are things out of their control, and those things can be unfair and cruel. He couldn’t help but feel somehow responsible for Isabella’s vulnerability.
"It’s ok my friend." Dr. Richards said slapping Jon’s back.
"There you two are." An aged Dr. Pam May chimed in.
"Ah, Pam. Pete here says you wanted to talk to me about something?" Jon quickly asked.
"Yeah, it’s about Izzo’s test this morning…" Pam started.
"What did she get a B? Wow, you grade fast! She would be a bear to live with for a week!" Jon said interupting her. " No… it’s not that. She never took it…" Pam got out with a concerned look.
All the doctors, staff, and faculty knew Isabella, with the people she saw often calling her the same abbreviation her dad did; Izzo. She was at the hospital the same hours as her father, much of the day she would spend walking around helping in any way she could. Back when she just stared coming, she was mostly in the way, but over the years she became a rather friendly wanted face around the complex. Everyone knew she would take her fathers shoes if given enough time. Not because her father wanted her to, or because he cut her breaks, but rather she was just so committed and fierce about becoming a doctor. No one had the same drive as she, not even the Program Director.
"What? She didn’t take it? Why didn’t she show up? She couldn’t have been more than five minuets late." Dr Adams said as if Dr. May had just punched him in the gut.
"No, it’s not that either, I worry about Izzo too, so stop interrupting me already!" Dr. May blurted out. "She came to class not at all acting like herself; she was quiet! Normally she comes in saying hi to everyone or talking about something stupid you did at home. She really is queen bee of the social hive in her age bracket around here. Now, granted, she was late this morning and didn’t have time to chit-chat…" Pam when on.
"So what does this have to do with her not being there?" Dr. Adams interjected.
"I was getting to that!" Dr May said with a slight twitch in her eyebrow. "As I was giving instructions for the exam, she was just sitting at her desk with a horrified look on her face. I leaded over her and whispered if she was ok while passing out the answer sheets. She sank into her chair like she was trying to be as far from me as she could with her face turning as white as the paper! She sat in her desk and looked down as if trying to look away from every person in the room. That lasted about five second before she ran out the door."
"Did you say anything that may have set her off?”" Dr. Richards asked.
"No, nothing I can think of. I may have embarrassed her aa bit though. When she walked in late I said something to the effect of, "well look who chose to show up!". The class chuckled a little but nothing big, there are only seven people in her class anyway, it couldn’t have been that big of a deal." Pam continued. "I figured she had a restroom emergency or something. I knew it didn’t have anything to do with the test; I have never seen her get a score other than an A, but she never came back." Pam concluded.
"Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner, Pam.?" Jon asked in a great deal of frustration.
"I knew you were it meetings all morning and didn’t leave a message. I didn’t want the entire hospital knowing what happened. I figured you would want it kept to friends. Don’t want to embarrass you." Pam said defensively.
"I couldn’t care less what this place thinks of her. I want her to be happy. It’s all I have ever wanted. She wants to be a doctor for her, not for me. All I want to do is find out what the fuck is going on." Dr. Adams said, voice getting louder.
"Calm down, buddy" Pete piped in with a hand on Jon’s back.
"No, you’re right. Thanks Pam. We don’t want the entire place talking about my crazy daughter the same way everyone did when she was born do we?" Jon snapped as he turned and walked away.
Pam stood there like one of her longest friends just told her to go die; eyes staring, mouth open, and urge to cry.
"Please don’t hold this against him Pam. You are a valued friend to us both. This is the first time he has ever had complications with Izzo. Up until this morning she has been a perfect child. However bad you are feeling now, Jon is feeling ten times worse. He’s scared but doesn’t know how to show it." Pete said calmly to his friend. "This may be the first time in his life Jon isn’t in direct control of the things going on around him."
Isabella was leaning on the window sill looking in threw the windows at the newborns in the hospital. She found it a nice place to gather her thoughts. It’s relatively one of the slowest and most calm areas in the complex. She would come here and think of how this was the place she first met her dad and in turn what direction her life would lead. While making funny faces at the infants she heard the vibrating of her phone in her small purse. Debating on even looking at who was calling her she pulled it out and looked at it. It was her dad? Godo thing she chose to see who was calling. He normally didnt have time to do much of anything with her during the day... seems news travels fast.
"Izzo? Are you ok?" he dad asked as she opened the phone and put it next to her ear.
"Yeah. I take it Pam talked to you?" She asked.
"Well, yes honey; Pam and I are good friends. She was worried about you and wanted me to know what was happening." Her father stated. "I think you and I need to have a talk to get to the bottom of today. Seems this morning wasn’t something random, was it?"
"No. It wasn’t." she whispered. Talking about it, even to her dad, was bringing up all kind of terrible thoughts of the visions she had during the morning and into the afternoon.
"Hey, you’re gonna be ok. Alright? I’m going to take the rest of the day off and you and I can head home. We’ll head to the track or something so you can make me feel old. While we run we talk about what’s going on, then figure out how to fix it." he said with humor.
"I want this to end daddy. It’s terrible."
"I know. You hang tough for me though ok? Where you at?"
"I’m at the nursery." She said, regaining a small piece of her personality.
"Ok, I’m on the way from the administration building, so it’s going to be about ten before I get there. Are you going to be my tough little girl till I get there?"
"Yeah." She said with a hint of a laugh. "I’ll be fine."
After hanging up with his daughter, Dr. Adams sighed with a bit of relief. "We’re going to get to the bottom of this, together." He said to himself half running to the nursery.